Review: Nissin MG8000 Flash (Canon Mount)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nissin MG8000 flash review (1 of 9)ISO 1001-200 sec at f - 2.8

When Nissin first announced their MG8000 flash, many journalists and photographers were taken aback. The company promised 1,000 full power flash pops before it starts to become problematic. Now of course, your batteries can’t handle that on a single charge, and this flash totally eats batteries anyway. But part of that may have to do with the Quartz bulb, which seems very powerful and delivers a brighter light output than other comparable flashes do.

Nissin is a company that has been around for quite a while and have established themselves as a very viable option for a third party flash. And while the MG8000 surely isn’t a bad flash, it has lots of kinks that need to be ironed out.


Pros and Cons

Pros

– Excellent flash output

– Superb build quality

– Nice heat sink towards the head makes sure that the flash doesn’t overheat

– Fairly simple interface, but could use a couple more buttons

Cons

– Eats batteries like a fat kid eats ice cream

– Can sometimes have TTL trouble when using Phottix Odins, but no trouble at all when connected to the hot shoe of a camera

Tech Specs

Specs taken from the B&H Photo listing of the flash

Mount Shoe
Guide No. 198′ (60.35 m) ISO100 at 105 mm position
Exposure Control Manual/TTL
Angle of Coverage Not Specified By Manufacturer
Vari-Power 1/8 – 1/128
TTL Dedication Yes
Bounce Head Yes
Swivel Head Yes, 180°
Coverage 24 mm – 105 mm (Full frame)
Zoom Head Full frame: 24 mm – 105 mm
Off Camera Terminal PC
Recycle Time Approximately 0.1 – 5.5 seconds
Flash-ready Indicator Yes
Compensation -3 EV to +3 EV (in .33 EV steps)
Wireless Communication Channels 4 Channels
Wireless Groups 3 Groups
Power Source 4x AA Batteries
Dimensions (WxHxD) 3.1 x 5.8 x 5.0″ / 7.9 x 14.7 x 12.7 cm
Weight 14.67 oz / 416  g Without batteries

 

Ergonomics

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nissin MG8000 flash review (2 of 9)ISO 1001-200 sec at f - 6.3

The Nissin MG8000 is very standard in its construction as a flash, but it also seems to emit an aura of wanting to be the equivalent of a Spartan warrior–except of flashes. This is evident in the subtle gold touches (especially around the slave sensor), its build quality, and its layout.

The flash not only comes with its own stand, but also a frosted diffuser–this is something that many manufacturers give with their flashes, but unfortunately Canon doesn’t do this. Lots of photographers love using them for the extra softness that it gives, but in reality it really isn’t much.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nissin MG8000 flash review (3 of 9)ISO 1001-200 sec at f - 2.0

The diffuser snugly fits around the head of the flash. It also clears the heat sink area that you see here to ensure that it doesn’t overheat.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nissin MG8000 flash review (9 of 9)ISO 1001-40 sec at f - 2.0

Just like most other flashes, the flash head of the MG8000 also turns around and flips forward and straight up. Each movement locks in with a really nice click–and we appreciate that in real life use. What that means is that it wont’ accidentally turn if you have a modifier like a Rogue Flash Bender mounted.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nissin MG8000 flash review (6 of 9)ISO 1001-40 sec at f - 2.0

The back of the flash is characterized by a small squarish LCD screen and buttons. The LCD is bright and the text is very simple to read. It isn’t pretty, but we’re not really sure that it is supposed to be.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nissin MG8000 flash review (5 of 9)ISO 1001-40 sec at f - 2.0

An interesting feature of the flash though is that the screen’s interface will rotate based on what direction the flash is in. So that means that if you’re shooting vertically, it will change accordingly. In real life use, that’s a nice touch.

Controlling the flash and working with the interface will require a bit of patience as the only real controls are a set button and directional button.

Build Quality

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: this thing is built like a tank. If you don’t run it through 1,000 full power flash pop, you can probably use it to bludgeon an attack to death. Why do we say that? This flash seems to be designed for the paparazzi or the celebrity photographer that shoots loads of events.

Something worthy of note is the way that the battery compartment works: it slides down and then needs to be pulled out in a slightly angled way. It’s quite interesting, and we actually like it more than other systems. Surely though, it isn’t as quick as just popping a battery in there. But when it comes to taking them out, there are fewer issues.

Light Output

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 35mm f2 IS image samples (8 of 9)ISO 1001-200 sec at f - 2.8

Speedlites typically put out around the equivalent of 80 watt seconds or so–which is significantly weaker than some monolights. The quartz bulb in the flash seems to also deliver light that is a tad cooler in color temperature than standard daylight–but for most white balancing systems that isn’t a problem.

When using the flash for product photos and portraits, we found it to seriously eat through all of our batteries. We ensured that they were fully charged before use and we used Energizer, Pearstone or Eneloop at different stages. No matter what, this flash consistently ate through them. But while we’re at it, the flash always stayed cool. However, at certain times it took significantly longer than we’d like to recycle its power. It’s grueling to shoot a product photo and sometimes have to wait upward of 10 seconds for it to recycle. While this can happen with lots of flashes, it happened much more frequently with this one. But in the one wedding we used it in, this seemed to be a tad problematic, so we switched back to Canon flashes.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon T5i camera review product images (3 of 7)ISO 1001-200 sec at f - 4.5

While it has great light output, we have to be very honest though:

– You’re better off using it with a battery pack to ensure faster recycles and longer battery life

– When using it with wireless triggers or even via infrared triggering, it was problematic with Canon Rebel cameras when it came to TTL communication. However, it was fine with the 5D Mk II. With that said, we recommend that you use this with higher end cameras.

We talked to Nissin about the problem, and they recommended doing a factory reset. We still saw the problem.

Conclusions

We’ve spent a very long time using this flash, and in the end, we couldn’t really warm up to it for strobist portraits or product photos. This is surely a flash that was meant to be used in the hot shoe and also used by the event and wedding photographer. Those are the folks who will truly appreciate what it can do since many of them also complain about flashes shutting off on them. Depending on how furious a pace you shoot at (and lots of you are machine gun shooters) we really have to emphasize that you get a power pack with it.

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